Spring 2019 Updates

It’s been all go this semester for me! Here are the highlights so far!


The year started off with the Healthy Children Project’s fantastic International Breastfeeding Conference in Deerfield Beach, FL and my presentation Breastfeeding Without Nursing: Information needs of exclusive pumpers. I will admit to being slightly disappointed at not being crowned the Milk Duck Queen, even though Georgie (my daughter) helped the ducks get to the other side!

I then recorded my presentation for iLactation’s Nutrition + Love conference. It’s still happening! So head over there to see my presentation, Breastfeeding without nursing: myth-busting exclusive milk expression to improve support given to exclusive pumpers, well as so many other brilliant speakers.

I had an amazing time at my first Breastfeeding and Feminism conference, where I presented Breastfeeding Without Nursing: What should we do about the prejudice against exclusive pumping? during a discussion workshop and a four-minute essay, Human milk has no gender: 21st century breastfeeding language.

Next week, I’m presenting online again at the GOLD Lactation conference, this time on Breastfeeding Without Nursing: Why do some breastfeeders exclusively pump and what can we do to support them? This conference is also still happening and also has some incredible speakers, so go register before you miss the opportunity.

On Campus

Last week was so busy for me. I got a Top 3 poster at Public Health Research @ Maryland Day, which was meaningful because it represented acceptance into the public health world, especially when there were so many other amazing posters.

I also competed in my campus Three-Minute Thesis (3MT to those in the know) finals. I was one of the three winners and also got the People’s Choice Award (thanks y’all!). My 3MT will be professionally recorded and one of the three winners will be put forward to represent UMD at the international competition – there’s a people choice award there too, so if I’m selected, I’m going to be spamming everyone to go vote!

I’m continuing to work on a project to improve lactation and feeding spaces on campus, which is both very rewarding (when we can really improve the facilities and therefore the experience of parents) and frustrating (when university bureaucracy makes everything more laborious and expensive).

Other Projects

Continuing with what I got started with the Universal Breastfeeding Symbol, I’ve been systematically redesigning baby feeding symbols. You can even buy stickers and merchandise!

My Research

My research – or rather, data analysis – keeps ticking along and will be turned into three-ish journal submissions in the coming year (the basis of my 3-paper dissertation…).

The bigger news is that I submitted a book proposal today. I’m super excited, but also realistic that this is the first ever book I’ve proposed and I’ve only sent it to one publisher, so success on the first try is super unlikely. It is the first step though!

Happy New BUSY Year: The Affective Outcomes of Choosing to EP

TL;DR: If you choose to EP, your emotional outcomes are going to be A LOT more positive than if you EP because of a reason that is, to whatever degree, out of your control.
We MUST support all forms of breastfeeding and work hard to help those feeding babies to fulfill their goals and expectations, whatever those might be.
I’ll be doing lots of data analysis this week in preparation for THREE conference presentations due this month (in person at the Healthy Children’s Center for Breastfeeding‘s International Breastfeeding Conference and online at GOLD – Lactation Online Conference and iLactation). Today’s analysis yielded some expected, but still depressing, findings.
My survey asked respondents why they EPed. From a list of reasons, one of the options was “just wanted to”; all the other options represented some degree of non-choice for the EPer. I also asked respondents to select emotions/feelings (as many as they wanted) that they experienced as a result of their EPing.
Those who “just wanted to” EP, i.e. chose this form of breastfeeding, were statistically significantly (p < .05) more likely to report feeling:
– happy
– intimate
– capable
– loving
– adequate
– productive
– humble
– strong
Those who EPed because of any other reason than “just wanted to” were statistically significantly (p < .05) more likely to report feeling:
– disappointed
– inadequate
– discouraged
– grieving
– envious
– cheated
– frustrated
– guilty
– bitter
– anxious
– resentful
– insecure
– sad
– regretful
– miserable

New semester – same frenetic pace!

News and Updates!
🎓 My university published a blog post I wrote today: https://gradschool.umd.edu/about-us/blog/4173
🇯🇵 This time next month I’ll be in Japan presenting my poster, “Breastfeeding without nursing: Reasons for initiation and cessation of exclusively pumping human milk,”. I found out what poster of distinction means: top 15% 🎉. You can find all the abstracts for the conference here: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/bfm.2018.29100.abstracts (I’m poster P-62, if you want to find me).
👩‍💻I was accepted to present “Breastfeeding Without Nursing: Why do some breastfeeders exclusively pump and what can we do to support them?” at the GOLD Online Lactation Conference next April. This is a HUGE online conference (over 2800 people register 😲) and where loads of lactation care providers advance their knowledge and get their continuing education credits. It’s an exciting opportunity!

It’s been a busy few months!

UPDATE! It’s been a really busy few months for me!

ALC TRAINING: At the beginning of May, I took the course and exam to become an Advanced Lactation Consultant through the The Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice. It’s the most advanced training I can get without becoming an IBCLC (which is basically going to be impossible for me because of the prerequisite academic classes). I haven’t heard whether I passed yet 🤞, but I had an amazing time learning yet more of the nuances of lactation consulting 🤱.

DISSERTATION PROPOSAL DEFENSE: In the middle of May, I SUCCESSFULLY defended my proposal 🎉 (Read my proposal! It’s really long and Chapter 3 is going in the trash 🗑. For those of you less familiar with PhD programs, it’s pretty standard to write a proposal for what and how and why regarding your topic before you actually collect data. I did that kinda backwards…but regardless, I got approved to do the research I’ve already done 😂! Which means I can get into the nitty gritty of data analysis and get some findings out there! 🎓

JOURNAL ARTICLE: I finally got through all the rounds of required revisions for a journal submission I sent in a year ago 🤨 and it has been sent to the publisher for final copyediting 📝! So in the next few months(?), “Breastfeeding without nursing: “If only I’d known more about exclusively pumping before giving birth” will be published in the Journal of Human Lactation 📰.

POSTPARTUM DOULA TRAINING: My work in the ivory towers of academia 🏫 only goes so far (not very, in fact). I feel a calling to also help with the greater problem of lack of postpartum support in general. I’ve been told that I have a reassuring demeanor about me when I’m talking to new parents 😌, so I felt like working as a postpartum doula would be way to continue to help. This past weekend, I took the most amazing training (though I am thoroughly exhausted 😴) and hope to complete the other requirements for certification in the next few months.

CONFERENCE PRESENTATION: While I was at the training, I got the email telling me that I have been accepted to present “The Information Needs of Exclusive Pumpers” at the Healthy Children Project’s International Breastfeeding Conference in January 2019 in Florida 🏝. I am so excited to be getting my findings out there to those folks working with breastfeeders themselves😄!

UPCOMING ATTRACTIONS: I have submitted a few other conference proposals (🤞Japan in October🤞), have a few more proposals to submit, am working with an amazing grad student who is helping me code some of my qualitative data 👩‍💻, will be working with a world-renowned epidemiologist to analyze my quantitative data, am doing some classes in the School of Public Health so I can reframe my work into that perspective (I thought I was done with classes 😭), and have a publisher potentially interested in publishing the book I am planning to write 📚. PHEW!

Summer 2017 update

Just dropping by to write a quick update. I’m working on editing the paper about prenatal information behavior to submit to a journal. They want it so short so it’s proving a bit of a challenge to cut it down but still retain all the great data EPers gave me.

I’m heading to Norman, OK on Sunday to do a course called “Maternal and Infant Assessment.” It’s run by the same organization as the CLC course I took and focuses on case studies and how to solve more advanced problems. I’m taking it so I can take the Advanced Lactation Consultant course in September (since I’m not a medical professional, I have to take this extra course).

The reason I’m getting these qualifications is to increase my credibility so lactation care providers of all kinds listen to my findings (they are the number one target audience for my research – they are the main people who need to know more about EPing so they can help their moms). I am also really enjoying the courses because they are totally evidence based (the bibliography in the CLC course book was 40 pages) so it helps with my own research and with knowing what other research is out there (and therefore how to argue that whatever it says doesn’t work for EPers!).

I also have a paper in my head about galactagogues as well as a full length book.Of course, all of what I am trying to get done is somewhat delayed by a massive house renovation and moving into said house, as well making sure my now 15 month old has plenty of fun with Mummy!

Preliminary Findings: emotions felt about EPing

word cloud

The above word cloud represent the emotions felt about EPing by respondents filling out the initial EPing survey during March 2017.

Respondents that had only heard the term “exclusive pumping” for the first time AFTER giving birth were significantly (p < .05) more likely to feel frustrated (p < .01), depressed, insecure, embarrassed, burdened, envious, disappointed, guilty, and rejected.